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2024 Lincoln Nautilus Is a Quiet Revolution

2024 lincoln nautilus
2024 Lincoln Nautilus Is a Quiet RevolutionLincoln

Sometimes, a screen is so big that it overshadows the rest of the car. That's the case with the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. After all, it's hard to see the words "48.0-inch screen" and think about much else. However, the Nautilus's new generation represents a broader shift for Lincoln, and the tech isn't even the most important part of this change. A 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is still standard, but the uprated twin-turbo V-6 is gone, and in its place is a new 310-hp hybrid powertrain. All-wheel drive is now standard, and there's plenty of new onboard tech—including that four-foot dashboard display—but it's a newfound attention to detail that really sets this mid-size luxury SUV apart.

Senses and Sensibility

The Nautilus's exterior design is more sculptural than before, with door handles integrating into the beltline rather than interrupting the gently waved surfaces below, but the interior really highlights Lincoln's newfound eye for the small stuff. Interior materials are vastly improved over last year's model—and some parts feel higher-quality than what's in the more expensive three-row Aviator. Most interior plastics hide behind a softer layer of material, and what remains is of sufficient quality to avoid detracting from the upmarket vibe.

2024 lincoln nautilus
Lincoln

And then there's the 48.0-incher. This panoramic screen integrates into a larger sweeping wall that wraps around the dash and extends to the door panels. The dashboard that separates you from the screens is low and flat, giving the impression that you're sitting at a dining room table. It's startling at first, but we acclimated quickly; the displays blend in and are noticeably less distracting than a traditional infotainment arrangement.

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A system called Lincoln Rejuvenate intends to give the Nautilus some wellness appeal and uses the SUV's panoramic display and available seat-massage feature, integrated fragrance diffuser, and surround-sound stereo system as a sort of guided meditation to help you relax. The system works only when the Nautilus is stationary, because it reclines the seat and could easily lull you to sleep if you let it.

2024 lincoln nautilus
Lincoln

Although it does the trick, Rejuvenate is the one part of the cabin that comes off as mildly gimmicky. The massage and scent features can be enjoyed while driving, too, just not with the associated meditative sounds and imagery, and they're remarkably effective. Our drive route consisted of over 160 miles of asphalt from Palm Springs to the California mountain town of Idyllwild and back, and at the end, we stepped out of the Nautilus feeling thoroughly relaxed.

Easygoing, Not Lazy

Relaxed is the best way to describe the Nautilus's road manners too. We spent time in a hybrid Black Label model with 22-inch wheels, as well as a gas-only Reserve with 21s. Both were exceptionally quiet as we wound our way through the mountain roads of the southern half of San Bernardino National Forest. Even though sporting pretension isn't exactly the SUV's forte, we made sure to try out the sharper Excite drive mode during the twistier bits. Excite firms the Nautilus's available adaptive dampers and adds a bit more heft to the otherwise numb steering, but it doesn't exactly transform this luxury cruiser into an apex-nipping machine.

2024 lincoln nautilus
Lincoln

Excite mode introduced some ride harshness that wasn't present in Normal mode, amplifying small road imperfections rather than burying them—again, good for spirited driving, but is this a vehicle where that would ever be considered? Those bumps and humps were more prominent on the larger wheels but still noticeable on the 21s. We also experienced a rather annoying wobbly front passenger seat in both trims we drove, made even worse by the stiffer setup—a rare misstep in a vehicle that seems otherwise well built.

Much of our time was spent behind the wheel of the new hybrid model, a $1500 option on any trim level, and of the two powertrains, it's the one that suits the Nautilus best. It's the same power-split arrangement Ford's used for decades, in this case combining a more powerful version of the turbo 2.0-liter engine–it gains 50 hp and 15 lb-ft thanks to a larger turbocharger—with two electric motors through a planetary gearset. A dog clutch sends 50 percent of the torque to the rear axle as needed. The hybrid's power delivery feels more seamless than the gas-only setup, and the extra power makes accelerating up steep inclines seem effortless. The nonhybrid's 250 ponies can be worked hard, but more engine noise leaks into the cabin, and we noticed some uncouth surging and lurching when driving at parking-lot speeds in Excite mode.

Digital Charm

In the 2024 Nautilus, tech doesn't just take center stage, it spans the whole darn thing. The headlining feature may be the panoramic screen, and its sharp on-screen graphics and numerous digital amenities are indeed impressive, but there's a lot of technology here that you can't see, and much of it is just as important, if not more so.

2024 lincoln nautilus
Lincoln

All models come with Lincoln's Co-Pilot 360 driver-assistance suite, as well as Ford's BlueCruise hands-free highway driving feature. Active sound cancellation, an 11.1-inch center touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient interior lighting, a power-adjustable steering wheel, onboard Wi-Fi, remote start, and welcome lighting that illuminates as you approach are also standard.

Our loaded Nautilus Black Label hybrid's $80,345 sticker price is enough to cause a palpitation until you consider all that it includes: a 28-speaker Revel stereo system, 24-way power-adjustable massaging front seats, the aforementioned adaptive suspension, a panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats, that fragrance diffuser, and exclusive ownership perks such as free annual detailing services and pickup and delivery service for maintenance visits.

Our tester also wore the Jet Appearance package, which swaps exterior chrome bits for a dark-satin alternative, unique badging and grille inserts, and special wheel designs. If you want to sacrifice that extra bit of prestige, the Reserve trim can be optioned with nearly all the same features and appearance items for almost $10,000 less.

Even at its highest price point, the Nautilus rings in just below similarly equipped hybrid rivals such as the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-class, and the Volvo XC90. It should be noted, however, that those hybrids are plug-ins, and the Lincoln is not, so you won't get the satisfaction of traveling significant distances on electric-only power. But the Nautilus's newfound build quality, attention to detail, and indulgent features place Lincoln closer than ever to the luxury-SUV big show.

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